Thai monastery’s five points in addition to 8 Garudhamma

I think it helps to have an idea of context of the recent debate around Bhikkhuni Vinaya, without which our responses can seem skewed.

With metta


Were this five points practise only
by one monastery ?
What about other Thais monastery ?
Were it the same in Myanmar , Sri Lanka , Cambodia , Laos , Singapore , Malaysia , Indonesia and Vietnam ?

As far as I know… ?

With metta

This is the original 5 point agreement at Amaravati plus them “rewritten” so they are discriminatory to gay people and disabled people apparently to illustrate how offensive and inflammatory they could be?

How does this help us Mat? :open_mouth:

I think helps us to hear something about the context in which cries of pain arise from. Otherwise our response might be ‘let them eat cake’, when a malnourished person begs for food for oneself. Also context is important that this is not set thousands of years ago, in a different culture. This is a document from our lifetime- set in the West in an apparently developed country. If they were bold enough to publish this, I can only wonder about the real dysfunction that happens in person.


@Apeiron I believe it is still illegal to be a Myanmar national and a Bhikkhuni in Myanmar.
A Burmese Bhikkuni was put in jail and beaten until she disroabed.
Here are the details as accounted for on Bhante Sujato’s blog

We had a 10 precept nun (of 20 years) stay with us for vasa. While she was here the nuns collected alms with alms bowls. We had to ensure no photos where taken of her with an alms bowl for fear that she would be kicked out of her monastery for ‘impersonating a monk’.

So many of her behaviours seemed so different to the Australian, American and Chinese nuns I’ve met. It was clear she had lived in a culture where she was placed in a low position. It was really sad.


OK thanks for the reply. I still think the writer of this is going overboard by rewriting them so they are in a different context, but anyway…

Please don’t blame the people who are trying to help. The problem is the people causing the discrimination, not those trying to end it.


Thank you Mat.


Yes, that has all to do with this:

Here in LA the Bhikkhunis were not allowed to go on almsround with the Burmese monks. But they are allowed to go on almsround with the Thai monks.


Bhante, I am criticizing the way the message was conveyed, not the message. I’m not blaming anybody. Sorry if that wasn’t clear.

Just because someone expresses opinions we agree with doesn’t make them perfect or above reproach, of course…

Obviously, these points at Amaravati make the creation of something like Aloka Vihara out here in Northern California deeply needed for the women wanting something more complete and fair. The nuns there are mostly former Amaravati nuns (good ones too!). As far as I can tell, the relationship between them and Abhayagiri is good and respectful, even though they both kind of do their own thing. I know lay devotee’s of the Thai Forest type typically support both depending on their geographic location (Aloka is closer to Sacramento than the Bay Area). I know I support both.

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I was watching an interview/documentary on the abhyagiri YouTube a while ago where one of the senior monks was asked about where the nuns where. His answer was along the lines of; they have their own monastery a while away. We come from the same lineage, but we like to let the nuns do their own thing, we don’t want to interfere.
I really appreciate this from a monastery which has ‘a forest monastery in the lineage of Ajahn Chah’ as their Tagline. His answer also speaks, imho, to the ‘problems’ with vinaya regarding nuns autonomy.

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Oh, no, that was perfectly clear!

Let me explain a little. You see, I am very slow in these things. Really, I am, this is not faux humility or anything, it has taken me years and years to figure out even simple things.

When I first starting tentatively speaking about gender issues in the Sangha, I naively assumed that it was something that could be discussed. But I found, rather to my confusion, that the talk slipped immediately off into discussion about the way it was done.

Then I started to look around, and I realized that the same thing was happening, not just in the area of gender, but in pretty much any difficult topic. I am talking now about historic cases in the Western Sangha where there were disagreements.

To try to understand what was going on better, I looked around at other social change movements, and I noticed the same thing happening everywhere. Whenever women speak about change, or people speak on behalf of women, the talk slips into their emotional problems and poor communication. Meanwhile, the problem goes on.

So over the years I learned to simply ignore these points, seeing them as one of the standard means for perpetuating injustice.

Does this mean we can’t disagree? Not at all! But it means that, if you disagree with the way that a protest has been framed, rather than criticizing it, ask yourself: “How could I do better?” Then get your boots on the ground and actually do better. Make the change, get the results. Then come back and share them with us: “See, this is a better way of doing things, look at the results I got!” We’d be delighted to learn, and it would be a genuine contribution.


Yes, it can be really sad… I was discussing this last week with a female professor in a STEM subject who has become dismayed that the sort of bullying that occurred when she was a student 20 years ago is still going on, and is in some cases amplified by social media. Many of my and her male colleagues just don’t notice that there is a problem…

In addition to your points, the push-back I see in many areas uses the tactic of redefining the concerns that women, or ethnic groups, bring up as “complaining”. Another common approach is to argue that perhaps there were problems in the past, but those are historical, it’s all fine now, and the group should stop whining about oppression and just get on with it…

On the other hand, I would say that expressing problems in terms of “oppression by the patriarchy” etc. is unlikely to win any converts. The way I argue it with some of my colleagues is in purely business/self-interest terms: those of us teaching programmes in some STEM subjects can make our jobs a lot safer if we can tap into the female market, and potentially almost double our student numbers! (In addition to other benefits such as the advantage of diversity in enabling problem solving.) The same goes for Māori, and other under-represented ethnic groups.

I feel the same self-interest about Bhikkhunis. As I said, I’ve only ever had a detailed conversation with a Theravada Bhikkhuni once in my life, and I had to go up a mountain in northern Thailand to meet her… I not only valued the different perspectives I got from her. The extra care I had to take with my behaviour with a monastic of the opposite sex was an interesting learning experience.

Ironically, I have had many more conversations (some of them really interesting) with Mahayana Bhikshunis (notably from Fo Guang Shan). At Fo Guang Shan events here we have the interesting reversal from Thai and Sri Lankan events, with female monastics and a mixture of male and female lay organisers (as opposed to male monastics and predominantly female lay people). Perhaps more female monastics increases the number of male lay practitioners?

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It is interesting that you observe this too. I always wonder why there are lot of female in Sri Lankan temples. My conclusion was that going to temple is the only going out for a female in Sri Lanka. They love to go to the temple and talk gossips. Olden days gossips spot was the water hole. This matter was eloquently pointed out by a very popular monk as well.
Other point was that majority Sri Lankan men consume alcohol and that is their social outing.
I remember when I was in the university we love to go to temple on Uposata days as we can meet girls.
Going to the temple is more of a social event in Sri Lanka.

What is the logic here?

I used to attend the Devanapethis Samatha-Vipassana meditation centre in Kandy Sri Lanka. They had one resident monk and around 30 ten preceptor nuns and one Bhikkhuni all who were meditators and instructors. Men and women both attended in equal numbers but in large numbers. Many had been on retreat at the centre itself or would get kammatthana to do it home. I think if people see a relatively functional set up (they weren’t without their problems, of course) and that the nuns were trying hard to do their practice and that there was something genuine going on and they were benefiting from it, those who interested in the dhamma will come, regardless of gender. In somewhat ‘superficial’ settings I feel Sarath might be right. The temple becomes an escape from from the chores. I guess it helps even then to some degree.

Now to the topic at hand…

With metta

The structural relationship, as indicated by the Vinaya, of the hetrosexual Sangha to the homosexual Sangha is one of seniority, such that the most junior hetrosexual is “senior” to the most senior homosexual. As this relationship of seniority is defined by the Vinaya, it is not considered something we can change.>

Do you find anything related to same-sex people in Sutta or Vinaya?

I was half joking.

In STEM subjects most of the professors are male, and so are the students, and we hope that having more female faculty will attract more female students. This does seem to be the case.

At the Thai monastery I attend there are male monks and most of the lay people are female.
At Fo Guang Shan there are female bhikshunis and a balance of male and female lay people.

Perhaps having more female monastics attracts more male lay supporters, the opposite to our experience in STEM where more female professors seem to attract more female students.

Not a serious study, just thinking aloud…

Perhaps not.
I did not want to mention before but female like the tender loving kindness of the male monks as opposed to their husbands.
Perhaps the opposite sex attracts.
Oh sorry, I forgot that this is my virtual temple.
Back to the topic.